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Soup Recipes

05 July 2009

Gordon Ramsay's Minestrone with Blue Eye Cod


On Friday I attended the 2009 Sydney Good Food & Wine Show. The main event of the day was bad boy Gordon Ramsay’s live cooking demonstration.

Ramsay bounded out on stage to greet the curious crowd with black masking tape over his mouth – was this promise not to offend after his recent comments about TV presenter Tracy Grimshaw? Or the more likely scenario -- an enforced gagging.

Whatever the case, Ramsay was funny, charming, a little crude perhaps but nonetheless, he delighted the crowd with his amusing quips and cooking tips.

I’ve only ever seen snippets of Ramsay’s infamous Hell’s Kitchen. Frankly I got anxious, and finally, bored watching him shout at and belittle quivering chefs.

After seeing him live though I can see why people are fascinated by him. He’s charismatic, he’s confident and he exuded a potent energy that spilled over into the crowd.

In the 30 minutes Ramsay was on stage he prepared three meals; a minestrone with blue eye cod, Tasmanian salmon on a bed of sautéed spinach and radishes and finally, some luscious looking poached pears served with caramelized figs.

There were no cooking measurements given. It was the case of “a touch of this and a touch of that”. So I've done my best to recreate the minestrone. It’s a delicious and nourishing dish with plump pearl barley, fresh herbs and succulent blue eye cod. Ramsay encouraged the use of celery leaves – something I do regularly in soups, salads and stir-fries. The often over-looked leaves add a fresh and subtle sweetness to whatever dish they're added to.

A note on seasoning with salt – say a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt – I try not to add the whole teaspoon all at once. Instead, I sprinkle ¼ of a teaspoon or so here and there throughout the cooking process. This method of staggered seasoning allows for layers of flavour to develop and gives the dish more depth.

Finally, let me introduce you to Malcolm the magpie.

Malcolm lives nearby with his posse of feathered friends and is becoming increasingly more confident and curious as the days go by. I had just ladled the minestrone into the bowls and decided that they needed some more cheese. I went inside the house to fetch it and then came around the corner to find Malcolm with his beak in the bowl! I shouted and shooed him away. He eyed me grudgingly and took several steps backward and proceeded to watch me take photos. He even made several rather lyrical comments. Compliments to the chef I hope.


Continue reading "Gordon Ramsay's Minestrone with Blue Eye Cod" »

14 June 2009

Asparagus Soup with Creme Fraiche


I had forgotten how cold Sydney can get in winter. After living in Canada for so long, the thought of a Sydney winter didn't scare me a bit. I laughed defiantly at a city that has never seen a snowflake fall. Bring it on!

How wrong I was. It's cold. I'm wearing two pairs of socks while I type this...and a beanie.

Sydney, it seems, is in denial of the reality of its winters. In Vancouver, it could be 3 degrees outside yet I would be merrily cavorting around the house in a pair of shorts because it was always an agreeable 20 degrees. Here, I am forced into an immature, roller-coaster relationship with my heater who burns my ankles until I can't take it anymore and turn him off. But then...the house seems so cold without him and I find myself soon inviting him back under the table.

Whenever it's cold, I turn to soups. This asparagus and creme fraiche soup however is one that can be eaten in winter or summer. In colder weather I usually have it quite thick which means it's not strained and contains all the nutritious vegetable pulp. In summer, for something lighter, I strain the soup which results in a smooth, velvety broth.

Continue reading "Asparagus Soup with Creme Fraiche" »

18 June 2008

Penance for Profiteroles: Carrot and Kale Soup


After a rather decadent date with chocolate ice-cream filled profiteroles last week, I felt as if I needed to repent with something simple. That something turned out to be a Carrot and Kale Soup.

Kale is one of my favourite vegetables but I don't cook it nearly as often as I should. There's something about its texture which I really love, especially when it's steamed, or as in this case, simmered for several minutes.

I mentioned in my my kale & smoked bacon quiche post, that the texture is somewhere between English spinach and seaweed. However, I'm not sure that's accurate. The leaves are curled and are very much firmer than lettuce, but soften upon wilting. If you can help me with a description of its texture, I'd love to hear it, because right now I'm groping around without success.

When I was in LA doing the raw food thing I tried a pretty hardcore green juice with raw kale in it. I won't be doing that again. While I do love the leafy green, consuming it raw was far too potent and I felt rather 'green' for several hours afterwards! That's not to say you shouldn't try it raw though, perhaps having it for breakfast first thing was the problem. I think I should have first consumed some greasy scrambled eggs and bacon to counteract the purity of all the raw kale nutrients!

In this recipe I used curly leafed baby kale, which when lightly cooked provides more calcium for every 100g serving than milk, yogurt, cooked broccoli or cooked spinach. It also has seven times the amount of vitamin A than cooked broccoli. These are just a few examples of the seemingly endless benefits of kale.

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Joanna of the blog Joanna's Food.


Continue reading "Penance for Profiteroles: Carrot and Kale Soup" »

19 November 2007

Purple potato and artichoke chowder


Traditionally, a chowder is a milk-based soup flavoured with bacon and thickened with flour or saltine-like crackers. The soup can contain anything from seafood, to potatoes or whatever vegetables are available to the cook at the time.

I used artichokes, purple potatoes and some leeks. I slightly adapted the recipe I found on a website called SPUD which called for the use of soy milk instead of milk. Not this time though, I needed something a bit heartier than soy milk.


To give the soup a smoky flavour I used ground cumin and for some sweetness, I added fresh sweet basil. Just before serving, I added a generous shaving of Parmigiano Reggiano which gave the soup an extra kick.

If you don't have purple potatoes, not to worry as they don't seem to taste any different from normal potatoes, they just add a great flash of colour to the otherwise neutral shades of the chowder. These little purple gems are known as Purple Peruvian potatoes and were considered by the Inca to be food of the gods.

Their colour is gorgeous and holds pretty well despite being steamed and then boiled.   


Continue reading "Purple potato and artichoke chowder" »

15 October 2007

Kao Thom: soup for sickies


Kao Thom with tasty, tender pork meatballs is the perfect 'I'm feeling sorry for myself' food. It is comfort food. And, it is the only thing I eat when I have a bad cold. What's more, it is very easy to make which is what you need when you're not feeling so crash hot. Most importantly, it is absolutely delicious. So delicious, that when I eat it, I forget I am sick.

Kao Thom is a Thai breakfast staple that is actually eaten at any time of the day. Another similar breakfast dish is called Johk which has more of a porridge-like consistency like Congee.

The standard condiments that are always served with Kao Thom include slivers of fresh ginger, a handful of Chinese celery leaves (normal celery leaves will do), crispy fried pieces of garlic and red chillies in vinegar sauce, otherwise known as Naam Som.


Kao Thom with Pork Meatballs Recipe
(Serves 4)


5 cups of organic chicken stock
2 cups of cooked white rice
1/4 tsp of Chinese White Pepper
2 tbs of Thai fish sauce
1.5 tbs of light soy sauce (I use Thai Healthy Boy brand)

Pork Meatballs

450gms of lean ground pork
2 tbs of grated ginger
3 cloves of grated garlic
1/2 tbs of fish sauce
1/2 tbs of light soy sauce
A dash of Chinese white pepper


6 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 tbs of vegetable oil
Slivers of fresh ginger
Chinese celery leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbs of white vinegar
1 red chili, sliced with most of the seeds removed


  1. In a large pot, heat the chicken stock on a medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add fish sauce, soy sauce and white pepper to the stock. Stir well and reduce heat to low and cover.
  3. Now for the meatballs. Mix together all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Once the ingredients are mixed though, roll small meatballs that are about 2cm in diameter. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Time for the condiments. Heat the vegetable oil in a small fry pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic slices and fry until crispy and golden brown but not burnt. Drain the garlic and set aside.
  6. Add the chili and vinegar to a small serving bowl and set aside.
  7. Arrange the the ginger in a small serving bowl. Add the celery leaves to a small serving bowl. Set aside.   
  8. Uncover the soup and turn the heat up to a medium high heat. When the soup starts to simmer, add the meatballs. Cook the meatballs for about 3-4 minutes or until they rise to the top which means they are ready.
  9. The final stage in preparation for this recipe is to spoon about a cup of cooked rice into a soup bowl. Ladle on the soup and meatballs and then garnish with prepared condiments.
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BCSPCA - Vancouver